Dissertation Proposal Success!

I am absolutely THRILLED to be able to tell all of you that I successfully proposed my dissertation today! I was a nervous wreck, but it went pretty darn well, if I do say so myself!

I just wanted to say a HUUUUUGE thank you to all of you guys that sent good thoughts and prayers my way! Plus, all the well-wishing and tweets and emails were just wonderful and amazing and I feel so lucky to be able to ask you guys for support and get such an INCREDIBLE response!

Basically, I'm feeling like a VERY lucky gal right now! Thank you all so much for everything (and I'm sorry I didn't post until now - I was napping and celebrating and am just starting to breathe again)! (And, I'm kind of crazy excited to reward myself with some time on Pinterest and crafting, taking pics of the pups, and just hanging out in my PJs!)

Science News - Wish Me Luck!

I almost never post anything particularly real life related or science-y, but I just wanted to tell you all that I've been pretty quiet on the blog front recently because I'm proposing my dissertation on Friday (THIS Friday - eeeeek)!

After that, I'm going to be back full force and I honestly can't wait to get to that point... for those of you not familiar with this process, I still have to come back and defend this thing in May, which is the really big deal and when I'm basically really done. However, this is a big step - I actually have my data already, but haven't proposed the dissertation, which is kind of weird and unusual... but it's sort of like I am on step 35, but then after I propose this thing, instead of being on step 36, I'll be at step 55 (if we say that the whole thing is 70 steps or something like that... a laughably small number).

Anyways, the whole process is INSANELY nerve wracking because you present a whole lot of stuff to a committee of professors and they question you and it's open to the public and it's basically very stressful. So if all of you can think extra good thoughts and prayers and send luck my way, I'd REALLLLY appreciate it! I'll let you all know (possibly via Twitter) what happens on Friday! (And hopefully I'll have a post scheduled before now and then that's at least a little crafty...)

(P.S. In case the whole thing wasn't stressful enough, the boyfriend's mom and step-dad are gone for the weekend and so we're watching their GIANT black lab in the tiny apartment. He's awesome and super-sweet, but he's big. His father's name was Tank and a car hit Tank and the car was totaled. He's awesome, but it's like a zoo in here!)

(P.P.S. Not only am I channeling my fifth grade self, but I figured no post was really complete without some pictures and all I've really got are Max and Bella... so here's some cuteness that I'm using to keep myself less anxious til Friday... it's honestly hard to stay stressed when you see such a cute little face looking at you from the middle of the bed!)

Max LOVES his stuffed elephants... 

That's Bella with one of her blankets that my grandmother knit for her.

Max in the middle of the people bed.

And, the picture quality might not be awesome, but Bella has been sleeping with her head on Max's butt recently... here's the evidence. I don't know how they're both okay with it, but they are... 

Key Holder

I know how much the boyfriend and I like our key/leash holder by our front door - keeps us sane and the keys and leashes in one, predictable place (unlike everything else we own). So I decided to make one for my sis. This was another project made in the insane pre-Chrismukkah time so there aren't a ton of pictures of the progress, but I think that with some info and the pictures I do have, it shouldn't be a problem!

Here's how I made this little gift for my sis... 

  • Glossy Mod Podge and paintbrush
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Ribbons
  • Adhesive tape/dot roller
  • Scissors, X-acto knife
  • Small hooks from the hardware store (and drill with very small drill bit the size of your hooks)

I started with this frame that I got from the dollar section at Michael's awhile back. It was wood that I thought would be thick enough to accomodate some hooks and it already had the little metal wall hanger in the back (I think). Then I took this scrapbook paper that I knew matched my sister's living room pretty well and covered the frame with it. I used Mod Podge to adhere the paper to the frame and then to coat and protect it. I let that first coat dry and added another one or two to the frame to sort of protect the paper from the keys and whatever would be hung on it (or hopefully to protect it - no long-term test results available yet)!

From the picture above you can see that I covered the whole frame - including the sides. And you can get a better look at everything from the next picture, including how I took the X-acto knife to trim off the paper in the middle where the picture would go (if I was using this as a picture frame). 

Once the frame dried/while it was drying, I figured out what I was going to put in the middle of this thing where the photo would go. I was leaning towards the word "keys" or something, but that seemed cheesy and I figured she might hang a coat or cardigan, purse, umbrella, etc. on one of the hooks so I didn't want to limit her with a word. Then I remembered that I saw these old vintage-y Duke ribbons on Etsy and I actually bought them figuring they'd come in handy for some project that I'd make for my sis. There wasn't a lot of any of them, but I figured that they'd be kind of perfect for the center of this frame. (I'm wondering now if I could have gotten a square of corkboard, put the ribbon over that and had a little memo center there, but that ship has sailed for this little key holder!)

So I cut a few strips of the ribbon and glued them to the little center card that was in the frame.  

Then just put that card into the center and locked it in place with those little brad-like metal pieces that hold your picture in place.

Then I handed this over to the boyfriend and he measured and drilled little holes and put the hooks in like this...

And ta da! A nice key/coat/purse/leash holder that was free (because I had everything on hand), but realistically was less than $2 (frame for $1 and less than $1 for the hardware) for the main supplies!

I'm linking up to some of my favorite conferences.

Max's New Blanket

My grandmother knitted Bella blankets many moons ago and she actually knitted Max a small blanket that we sometimes put on him like a cape. She's been working on a larger blanket for Max and she finally finished it and sent it and Max is in love! My grandmother made the blanket in purple and orange for Clemson and Max just looks so cute in it!

With his all-time favorite toy ever - his stuffed elephant that he suckles on A LOT.

In his day time bed... that's right, he also has a night time bed that fits him a little better! 

I know I'm a little biased, but I thought these were just too adorable not to post!

Updated Blog Design

I decided that 2012 should mean a new blog design for me... so I've been working on that and you might see a few new things already. I'm not quite sure how much of a make-over I want to give the blog, but I did want to just add a few more "science-y" touches and update the design and freshen it up! But for now, you'll notice a new header (there's a little preview at the top of this post!) and the buttons for all of the categories (e.g., the crafty tutorials, supply-related roundups, free printables, etc.) are all updated on the sidebar and in the blog tour.

One other thing I've been wondering about is whether I should truncate posts. Basically, should more posts appear on the main page and then you can easily navigate to a post and click on something like "Read More" to get the full post (Be Different... Act Normal is one blog that does this) OR is it better to leave the blog as it is... do you guys have any thoughts? 

And any thoughts on the new design? Anything I can do to make the blog better, easier to navigate, prettier...? 

Glittered Snowflake Wreath

I bought these foam snowflakes from the Walmart clearance section more than a year ago and I had no idea what I was going to do with them. I just knew that for $1.50 for a giant package of three colors, I had to get them and I could somehow make something cool. Unfortunately, it took me about a year. But I'm pretty pleased with the result and even more pleased with how little glitter ended up on the floor and the desk and the chair and the puppies!

Here's how I did it...
  • Foam snowflakes
  • Glitter (I used the chunky style and the fine stuff and even threw a few microbeads in there just to see what would happen...)
  • Twig-style wreath (branch-style?)
  • Elmer's spray glue
  • Mod Podge Spray (this was the glossy kind because it's what I had)
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Paintbrush (to spread the Mod Podge)
  • Newspaper (to protect everything from glitter!)
  • Ribbon (just a bit to hang up the wreath)
First, I spread out my newspaper and gathered up my glitter, Elmer's spray, and paintbrush. This is what my little foam snowflakes looked like...

I'm pretty sure you could easily cut some out of foam or cardboard and get the same effect. Or maybe the dollar store has something like this! I just wanted to use these little beauties that I found last year... I also have to confess that originally, I used regular Mod Podge liquid on the snowflakes, but that didn't really hold the glitter all that well. I think I was just too slow in applying it and ended up with spots that were already dry by the time I added glitter. I don't know what the exact problem was, but I had much better luck with the Elmer's spray glue...

So then I sprayed the Elmer's onto a snowflake - I kind of held it over the trash and then quickly threw it on the newspaper - and then poured glitter on it.

I did this a few times and then I let all my little snowflakes dry. I kind of put them in some plastic drawers that I covered in newspaper...

I made a whole bunch of these, let them dry, and then gathered them up with the rest of my supplies. I just started hot gluing them to the twig-like wreath. That was another dollar store purchase from many moons ago...

I put a few non-glittery snowflakes on there too because I hadn't really made enough glittery ones and I figured it would sort of give the eyes a break to have some plainer ones in there! I glued pretty randomly and glued some snowflakes just to each other. You can kind of see the layers in the photo above. I also wrapped a little ribbon around the wreath before covering that with the snowflakes.

Then I took my wreath outside and sprayed it with the Mod Podge Glossy finish spray. I gave it a few coats (and waited a few hours in between, just to be safe). I don't know how many coats you need, but I just wanted to minimize the glitter mess so I probably went overboard at around 4 coats or so... I blame the fumes!

After that was done, I threaded another piece of ribbon through the loop I tied around the wreath and then covered with snowflakes on the front. I just tied that piece so that I could hang the wreath on the door...

And then it was time to admire my work!

This thing is actually pretty massive, but the glitter is staying put and I have to say that I love the sparkly mix in there - some glitter shows up from far away and some you have to sort of get up close before you see it so it's not really too overwhelming. And I love the mix of colors!

Here's what some of the snowflakes look like up close...

See what I mean about the variety of glitter? I just love it! And it turned out that way because I bought some more glitter at Walmart and they only had the chunky kind, but I just didn't have too much of the fine stuff... I worried it would look weird, but now that's my favorite part!

You can see where I tried out the microbeads - on the middle dark snowflake with the silver glitter - I just wanted to see what they would look like. I think you shouldn't really waste time worrying about them. They were messy and didn't add much to the wreath and I had problems making them stick and not be too heavy... just not worth it to me, but I had fun experimenting with it!

So that's my winter wreath!

I'll be sharing this at my favorite parties!

Jars to Vases: Upcycled Decor

The boyfriend's mom saved several Starbucks bottles for me - she washed them out and then asked if I could make them into something pretty, maybe some vases. I excitedly got to work in the middle of the frantic Chrismukkah crafting and got these ready to give her as part of her gift. While it was awesome for her, I definitely didn't get nearly as many pictures as I would had I not been crafting like a crazy lady amid stacks and stacks of supplies and projects in progress! But, here's what I managed to get for this gorgeous project!

  • Mod Podge 
  • Food Coloring 
  • Paintbrush 
  • Newspaper or wax paper to cover your work area
  • Tiny bit of super-glue
  • Washi tape
  • Twine
  • Ribbon doilies

I painted at least one bottle vase the same way that I made the colored Mod Podged jars - I got regular Mod Podge and mixed it with my neon food coloring.

Then I painted it on the OUTSIDE of the cleaned out bottle vase. The mixture goes on sort of opaque, but becomes more transparent/translucent as it dries. This was the bottle not long after I applied the mixture...

And here's the dried purple vase!

Unfortunately that's the last picture I have of this one, but after the coloring dried, I sprayed the bottle with the clear acrylic stuff that I used to seal the lemonhead wreath. Because all reviews and people online who tried crafts like this indicated that the Mod Podge method was not waterproof, I painted the outside so the bottle could still be used as a vase, but I also sprayed the acrylic stuff on the outside so if water spilled, the dye wouldn't run or rinse off.

Then, I grabbed these ribbon doilies that I got as a Crafty Steal (I think - maybe it was a Crafty Catch purchase?) a month or so before and had been dying to use on something...

And then I grabbed washi tape and twine to make some pretty vases. I basically covered the fattest part of the bottle with washi tape and then picked a coordinating ribbon doily to go over that somewhere and then found twine in both colors to wrap around the bottles a few times and tie in a bow. I put a dot of super-glue under the twine in the back so that it would stay put and not slide up and down the bottle and it seemed to work and help everything stay pretty!

By the way, the boyfriend's mother's favorite colors are pink and purple so I made these with that color scheme in mind... 

And ta da!

Bottles that were ready for the trash are now beautiful gift-worthy vases! Sadly I made more that I don't have pictures of, but I think these give you the basic idea and I was pretty darn pleased with them!

I'm linking up to some of my favorite conferences.

Paper Cone Wreath

I saw this spectacularly gorgeous paper cone wreath that Laura over at The Corner House blog made and I had to try it! I didn't have the 3" paper punch, but for some reason, I thought I could still do this. And somehow, that wasn't even why the first version of this was kind of a craft fail...

But luckily, I tried again and made an awesome version of this wreath for my sister's new apartment and I absolutely love it! Seriously, it was totally worth the time and effort and it's really not something difficult to make (even though I had to make it a little differently from Laura's because she had bigger paper punches and a different wreath base so hers looks much cleaner and more put together)!

Here's how I made the insulation wreath form and this pretty wreath!

  • Wreath form/base (this was the first wreath I tried to use the foam insulation trick for and that's why I had issues the first time, but I got it right and you can learn from my mistake!)
  • Variety of 2" circle and scalloped circle paper punches
  • Scrapbook paper, dictionary pages (if desired)
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Ribbon (for hanging the wreath and a bow if you want)
  • Scissors
The first time I tried to make one of these, I used the foam insulation and I didn't quite get the circle made and pretty, which is why the first version was kind of a craft fail. However, the boyfriend still loved it and it's on his bathroom door so I should watch what I say, haha...

If you want to make the foam insulation wreath form, you want to make sure you get the kinks out. The boyfriend actually helped with subsequent versions and made little slices in the foam.

You don't slice all the way through the insulation, but you make little cuts all along it...

And then you can just make it into a nice circle with the ends duct taped together. (You have to imagine it since I somehow failed to take a picture of it.)

Now you're ready to start making your paper cones for the wreath. Just use your paper punches and punch out lots of circles and scalloped circles.

These are the shapes I used. You want to make lots of these because they have to cover your whole wreath!

Here's how you transform the punched shapes into cones:

Basically, you make a little slice into the circle and start to fold and wrap it around like a little ice cream cone. Add some hot glue, cover it, and you have a little paper cone that looks like this: 

Keep making these things in a variety of different papers and colors... 

And then you want to start gluing them onto your wreath. If you use the foam insulation, the hot glue will melt a little bit of the foam, but this was actually helpful for me because I could really get the cones kind of melted into the wreath so they are never coming apart. 

Keep gluing on the cones until you can't see the wreath form and you get a nice, thick group of paper cones... 

You just keep adding the paper cones so it's all nice and thick like this and have a whole variety of papers in there... 

Here's the craft fail wreath that the boyfriend still likes, but is weirdly misshapen... I just couldn't add enough paper cones to make this into a real circle... (It's not quite finished, but you can see the problem here.)

And here's the bad wreath hung up...

But, if you make the insulation all nice and circular, after you've glued on lots of paper cones, your wreath will look much prettier!

To hang up my sister's wreath, I tied a little ribbon around the foam insulation and then covered that with the paper cones. After I finished covering it with the paper cones, I just threaded a ribbon through the one I'd tied on the foam and left a little bit exposed. Then, just hang it up!

I added the little bow to my sister's wreath because I felt like it needed something pretty on it.

I'm linking up to some of my favorite conferences!

And a huge thanks to Laura at The Corner House blog for making her AMAZING wreath and a wonderful tutorial! Her blog is amazing and if you somehow haven't seen it, you absolutely should go check it out RIGHT NOW. I LOVE her projects!
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